According to the Institute of Medicine, 20% of your water intake comes from food. ‘Eating a 100g cucumber is like drinking 100ml of water, but better,’ says Dr Howard Murad, author of The Water Secret. Besides being water-rich, vegetables, fruits, and a few other key foods contain nutrients that can boost a runner’s performance and health. In addition to filling your water bottle, add these foods to your diet for hydration, nutrients, and a tasty change of pace.
H20 + Electrolytes: Spanspek, peaches, strawberries
These fruits consist mostly of water and are rich in potassium, an electrolyte lost through sweat. ‘Potassium and sodium work together to maintain fluid levels in the body,’ says Dr Wendy Bazilian, author of The SuperFoods Rx Diet, ‘which helps regulate your heartbeat and circulation.’ One cup of each contains between 5 and 10% of your daily needs.
Wet your appetite: Make a cool soup: blend together peaches, spanspek, peach juice, lemon juice and sea salt. Or toss some strawberries into guacamole.
H20 + Vitamin C: Watermelon, kiwi, citrus
Vitamin C helps maintain cartilage and joint flexibility, and these fruits provide at least a third of your daily need per serving.
It also plays a role in skin protection. ‘UV rays, pollution and sweat negatively affect your skin,’ Bazilian says, and vitamin C counters those effects. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found watermelon and kiwi are nearly as healthy six days after being cut, so make fruit salad for the whole week.
Wet your appetite: Stir-fry chicken, bok choy and leeks; add grapefruit segments. Combine kiwi with greens, avocado, pistachios, and onion. Toss watermelon with feta and mint.
H20 + Cancer defense: Tomatoes, broccoli
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene; studies link this antioxidant to a reduced risk of lung, stomach, prostate, breast, colon, and cervical cancer. While it may not seem juicy, broccoli is 90% water and contains compounds called isothiocyanates.
A 2010 study in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry found isothiocyanates block a defective gene that causes cells to become cancerous.
Wet your appetite: Skewer cherry tomatoes and grill until lightly charred; add mozzarella balls, balsamic vinegar and fresh basil. Stir-fry broccoli with grated ginger; add minced grapes and sunflower seeds.
H20 + recovery: Pineapple, cherries
Both fruits may help you to recover and rehydrate post-run. Studies show the enzyme bromelain, found in pineapple, may reduce inflammation and speed muscle repair. ‘Cherries contain anthocyanins and melatonin, which reduce inflammation,’ says Dr Russel Reiter, professor of cellular and structural biology at the University of Texas Health Science Centre.
Wet your appetite: Skewer pineapple with chicken and bell peppers; brush with teriyaki sauce and grill. Stir minced cherries into dijon mustard.
H20 + Immunity: Yoghurt, amasi/buttermilk
Studies show that eating probiotic-rich foods can protect you from catching respiratory-tract infections that might otherwise thwart your run. Yoghurt usually delivers between one and five strains of probiotics (healthy bacteria); amasi, or fermented milk, can contain up to a dozen.
One cup of each also contains 10 to 12 grams of protein, an immune-system building block.
Stick to plain yoghurt (which is water- and protein-rich), since sweetened varieties can contain four or more teaspoons of sugar per serving.
Wet your appetite: Mix equal parts hummus and yoghurt; add lemon juice. Whisk together equal parts honey and buttermilk for a flapjack or waffle topping.
H20 + Digestion: beans
One cup of cooked beans (kidney or sugar beans, or chickpeas) provides half a cup of water, as much protein as two eggs, and half your daily fibre needs. Fibre keeps your digestive system moving, helps lower cholesterol, and controls appetite. ‘Beans are the perfect runner’s food,’ says Bazilian. ‘They’re a balanced combo of carbs and protein, which allows for a slower release of blood sugar for optimal performance.’
Wet your appetite: Combine beans, celery, onion, olive oil and red-wine vinegar; add herbs and salt.
DRINK UP: Beverages With Benefits Chocolate Milk: Its ideal ratio of protein and carbs helps speed post-run recovery. Read more about this, here. Coconut Water: The liquid found in green coconuts has fewer kilojoules and more electrolytes than sports drinks. Red Grape Juice: Research shows it contains more antioxidants than other fruit juices. Iced Green Tea: Compounds called EGCG give it anti-inflammatory properties.
DRINK UP: Beverages With Benefits
Chocolate Milk: Its ideal ratio of protein and carbs helps speed post-run recovery. Read more about this, here.
Coconut Water: The liquid found in green coconuts has fewer kilojoules and more electrolytes than sports drinks.
Red Grape Juice: Research shows it contains more antioxidants than other fruit juices.
Iced Green Tea: Compounds called EGCG give it anti-inflammatory properties.